Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 2014


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Until a decade ago, Wisden only covered the year up to the end of the English summer. The cricketing bible's primrose cover would have emerged in the spring as though the whole winter's débâcle – Ashes whitewash, Trott's burnout, Finn's exile, Swann's capitulation, Flower's resignation, Pietersen's sacking – had never happened.

The editor, Lawrence Booth, played a few shots against KP last year, calling him "arrogant" and "self-pitying". So this time, unsurprisingly, he comes out in favour of the ECB's decision to jettison him: "The party was over."

But Booth's main target this year is not KP the beheaded behemoth but the three-headed hydra that consists of the cricket boards of England, Australia and India. It's a rather arcane attack on the game's politics as the big three gang up on the rest of the world, but he rightly fears for the future of the game beyond the slap-and-tickle world of Twenty20.

If you want something to tickle the fancy, there's also the editor's damning verdict on Shane Warne's critique of Alastair Cook's captaincy. Booth calls the old leggie an "amalgam of Botham and Boycott". Now there's a truly scary monster, and no amount of plastic surgery is going to help.

As ever there is much else to recommend the august tome, which somehow still manages to be value for money at fifty quid. The choice of Charlotte Edwards, the England captain, as one of the Five Cricketers of the Year is laudable, and there is comprehensive coverage of Sachin Tendulkar's contribution to the game.

In its 151st year, the Almanack is intent on keeping up with the times as it examines cricket in the media, blogs and even Twitter – surely the exact literary opposite of this exhaustive, 1,584-page doorstep. It just goes to show, some old-fangled ways are well worth hanging on to.

Published by John Wisden & Co in hard and soft cover, £50